After the concert I found some ramen and headed home. On the way, though, I came across this oddly dressed girl setting up her little stage, and decided to stick around to see what she was up to. Turns out she’s another of those human statue/robot/doll deals, and she was particularly good at the act. I was the first one there and the first to put money in her basket. I stayed to watch for a while, and before I knew it, she beckoned me over to have a look at my Timex, and then she stopped; I’d stayed there for the whole performance. You’d think that it’d be easy to get a clear photo of a person whose job is to stand really, really still, but, well, it wasn’t. By the way, when I got home, there was a note from the ceiling repair dude saying that I wasn’t here and he’d stop by in the morning. The water’s stopped, though, at least for now.
Archive for August, 2002
I’ve been enchanted by the band [Clammbon] since I saw a commercial for their newest single while in Japan two summers ago. Today was the first chance I’ve had to see them live, and I’d been looking forward to it for some time. Thing is, the ceiling repair dude kept calling me and saying how he was going to be a bit later than he expected. He did this all day, until it was time to go to the concert, and he hadn’t showed up. I called Tets’s mom and she told me to go ahead to the show. I did, and made it just in time to pay a freaking ridiculous amount of money (plus mandatory drink charge) and catch a few Clammbon songs. They were brilliant, and bassist Mito-san announced that they’ve got a new album coming out in two months! That’s dang good news. This is not a photo of Clammbon, though. I wasn’t sure of the photo policy, and didn’t see anyone taking photos until after Clammbon was done. So this is a photo of the headlining act of the night, Rovo. They’re considered “trance-rock”, and they seemed to me like a young, Japanese, instrumental King Crimson. That’s a very, very good thing. I came right out and bought their CD. I also got myself a Clammbon shirt, which doesn’t say Clammbon on it anywhere. I can’t wait to start explaining it to people who ask. The event was held at Liquid Room, pretty much the premier concert venue in the area. It’s on the 7th floor of this ramshackle building in what’s just about the shadiest area you’ll find anywhere in Japan; you go up this staircase that’s literally saturated with graffiti, and there’s this whole full-fledged venue up there. It’s neat. The event was to celebrate the Liquid Room’s 8th anniversary, so they’ve got all sorts of relatively big time acts going this week. I saw a flyer for some show with DJ Aphex Twin, which is _very_ suspicious. : http://www.clammbon.com
I went out to a Mexican place called El Borracho (The Drunk) with Tets and some of his friends from school. There, I ate the spiciest thing I’ve ever tasted in my life: these “Tacos del Puerco” that seriously left my mouth hurting for a whole day. Yum. Anyway, I came home to find a huge puddle of water in the middle of the floor. It turns out that water had been pouring out of the ceiling for several hours. It had to happen the day before Tets left for his month in Burma. I called his mom, who happens to be the landlady, and she came to check it out. She called a repair dude and asked me to just wait until he showed up in the morning.
After 18 years of service, the Happy Mac that appeared upon startup of any Macintosh is gone. Instead we get an Apple logo. Because it’s obvious that an Apple logo better expresses the idea of a properly functioning machine than a smiling computer does. Jeez, guys. It was probably the same guy who decided that a spinning rainbow sphere represents “wait” better than a watch does. Thanks.
Maybe you’ve heard of the new version of Mac OS X that was recently released. Apple Stores all over the USA held big release parties for Mac OS X 10.2 “Jaguar”, with some going so far as to rent a live jaguar for the day. Apple fans in Japan are nothing if not enthusiastic, so some shops here got into the act as well. Our electronics store of choice is the Yodobashi Camera Shinjuku Nishiguchi Honten, and they had a sizable release event as well. When I arrived, about half an hour after the doors opened, there were already several hundred people lined up. While I waited in line, a dude came by and told us that we could go up to the third floor and get the product much more quickly. For some reason almost nobody moved, as if it was too good to be true, and they didn’t want to give up their spots in line. I was already way to the back anyway, so I went up there and in less than two minutes found myself with 10.2 in hand. Heh; not only did I get it before all those chumps in the Western world, but I even beat those suckers waiting downstairs.
I had so many crazy dang final projects this semester that I told myself that if I could finish them all on time and satisfactorily (something with which I tend to have trouble), I’d get myself an iPod. Well, here it is, but I’m never again taking so many 400-level classes simultaneously.
This Coke cost 350 yen. Note my big freakin’ head for size reference.
This dog was chained up to a doghouse in the middle of nowhere. It was really weird.
Otaru is a historical port town near Sapporo, with lots of neat little old warehouses and such. The Western influence is very apparent. One major specialty of Otaru is glass, and this glass factory in particular allows visitors to make their own glass thingies. Hiroko reserved a time and we went to make a glass. Don’t think of this picture as blurry; think of it as expressing the action of frantically trying to understand people instructing you in a foreign language about how to use your mouth and hands to shape a molten hot glowing piece of goo.
This five pointed star, for some reason, is the symbol of Sapporo, and thus is the symbol of Sapporo Beer. This was Japan’s first beer brewery, and is supposed to be one of the major tourist attractions in Sapporo, but there didn’t seem to be much in there except for souvenir shops and a restaurant. The educational, historical material was quite minimal. This window was pretty much the coolest thing.
This looks like a regular street to you, but to me, it’s a delicious reminder of home. Tokyo streets are ridiculous; they rarely go in the same direction for very long, and they rarely cross at right angles. Also, Tokyo’s buildings are packed together so tightly that you’d never have much of a view as to how the streets are laid out anyway. The young city of Sapporo, however, was designed with the help of USAmericans who really knew how to get their grid on. The cool, windy weather also helped to make me feel like I was right at home in Chicago. Sapporo is in Hokkaidou, Japan’s northernmost and most recently civilized island. Hiroko and I went up there for a few days before she had to go back to the USA. It’s very scenic, and its history as an international trading hub makes walking around looking at the old ports and warehouses quite interesting.
Kreg was especially impressed at Japanese fashion, Harajuku goth-loli fashion in particular. These girls seemed pretty flattered that we wanted a photo, and were very enthusiastic. They locked arms with Kreg for his photo, which was pretty neat. I feel like a clown for always cutting off people’s feet in photos, though. Dang it!
Another band playing on the bridge on Sunday in Harajuku. It’s certainly the time and place for up-and-coming bands; there were no less than five groups playing within ten meters of one another when Kreg and I went. Kreg is a friend of mine from way back in fifth grade or so; I used to spend weeks at a time sleeping over at his house. When I came to Japan, I pretty much invited everyone I knew to come stay with me, and Kreg was the first to come. The ten days he spent here felt like maybe three; I think it was so fun because showing someone something cool is like being able to see it again for the first time yourself.
Where to begin. Smap is an idol group. This means that they are singers, and actors, and comedians, and spokesmen, and whatever else they need to be to promote themselves. The thing is that they’re not particularly good at any of these things; they’re just cute. So these five guys have their own comedy show, their own band, their own drama shows, their own solo projects and such, and they show up advertising stuff and making guest appearances all over the place. Now, they have their own drink. I guess that’s the logical progression for a group that has already saturated pretty much every entertainment medium. I’m particularly fond of Kusanagi-san, who recently released a single with a bunch of Korean in it and went to Korea to sing it in the street to a bunch of confused pedestrians. The drink is kind of reminiscent of classic Japanese energy drinks like Lipovitan D and Oronamin C, which means it’s not particularly tasty, but it’s worth buying just for the psychological value of walking around town thinking to yourself, “Hey! I’m drinkin’ Smap!”.
This happens about every two minutes at the intersection just outside of Shibuya station. You should really see it in person.
I’m not sure exactly what service this company provides but I hope I never, ever have to call them.
This Coke cost 400 yen. Note the little Tabasco bottle for size reference.
Soft serve ice cream is a big deal in Japan. Here are most of the people on our Photo Club trip, eating it. Several of them are carrying really expensive and/or vintage cameras. I felt pretty brave trying to take good photos with my cute little consumer digicam around these folks.
This year, the Sophia University Photo Club took a trip to… Heck! Not really. We went up to Tets’s cabin in Nagano. I guess the idea was that there’s lots of interesting stuff to photograph up there, and that the ten out of eleven of us that are actually in Photo Club would get all sorts of excellent photos. However, we mostly hung around the cabin and grilled things outside over the fire. When everyone was all gathered around a table or something, it was hard to keep up; sometimes you feel like the people you’re with are part of some kind of exclusive club, but in this case, they actually _were_ part of some kind of exclusive club. It also didn’t help that they were speaking a dang foreign language and that I’m plain shy. However, sitting by the fire with one or two other people was quite fun, and I got to know some people pretty well. Ueki-san in particular was fun to talk to; he’s into rap and had me explain some of the more obscure terms and expressions in his A Tribe Called Quest collection. Ueki-san was also the designated fire maintenance guy; he was happy to keep it blazing all night. This photo is of one of the little ventilation holes on the side of our brick fire-pit.